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I always ask about opportunities and support for continuing education, and I always ask to speak (privately) with current staff in the same or similar roles in the same unit/setting. That's when you find out what life is really like working in that setting for that organization. "Good" organizations will be happy to set that up for you; if a potential employer balks at letting you talk to current staff, I consider that a big "red flag."
You are thinking about this backwards. You want to ask questions that you need answered, not questions that get the interviewer's attention. Heck, if you want to get his/her attention, ask if there's a nearby tattoo parlor, and do they contribute to the cost for some ink if it includes the hospital logo. (NOT) (Just checking)
If you are new to nursing, you might not know yet what's important to know, because a lot of that you find out after you've been a working nurse employee for awhile. But you might be curious to know what educational supports are built into orientation to help you be the best new grad you can be. Elkpark has mentioned this; I just caution that you don't want to start asking about "How many CEUs do you pay for in a year?" because that sounds grabby; you're aiming for communicating that you want to learn while working for them, for their benefit.
Also like the idea of speaking to someone in the role now. Perhaps you could ask one or two when you tour the unit when they get off for lunch and meet in the cafeteria.
Elkpark has mentioned this; I just caution that you don't want to start asking about "How many CEUs do you pay for in a year?" because that sounds grabby; you're aiming for communicating that you want to learn while working for them, for their benefit.
Exactly -- I never phrase in terms of "So, how much do you pay for continuing ed?" The idea is to convey to the interviewer that you are someone who is seriously interested and involved in continuing professional growth/development and, at the same time, getting some feel for how committed the potential employer is to supporting the professional growth of its employees.
Aside from all the basic questions which have already been mentioned, I like to ask about the relationships between staff and between nurses and doctors. What is the personality of the physicians? Some hospital treat physicians as the end all be all, and so they can talk to nurses any which way, which is usually down, without any consequences. Asking this question shows that you value respect and see professional peer relationships as important in a good work environment.
Long ago when I was doing the hiring a young man asked me this: "Let's pretend you hire me and at my first annual review you explained to me you were very happy with my performance. What had I accomplished to get that review?"
This question impressed the heck out of me and I never forgot. I actually used that line once and my interviewer was impressed too, and I was hired.
I typically don't ask a lot of questions at an interview. I let the interviewer take the lead. Usually they'll start out explaining what the position entails, then launch into a bunch of canned questions that they're required to ask by the agency they work for. After that, they'll ask me if I have any questions. I'll ask about what the orientation process looks like, whether scrubs are provided or if we buy our own, or in the case of a per diem position, what kind of time commitment the manager is hoping for (2 shifts a week, 4 shifts a month, etc.).
Usually the interviewer has already made up their mind if they want to hire me or not by the time they get to the point of asking me if I have any questions. They're judging by my answers to their questions as well as my nonverbal communication. Do they feel I'm being honest with them? Do they feel I'm really interested in this position? Do they feel I "get" the core values of the organization? Do I seem confident and competent without coming off as cocky? Will I be a good fit within their unit? They figure all of this out within the first few minutes of the interview.
Like SunnyMindRN stated, what is orientation like. I dont mind putting myself forward as the best candidate. I think that orientation is something I would always want to know about and it puts it in there mind about you being in that position. It gets them seeing you in the position there hiring for. It wont hurt.
You are thinking about this backwards. You want to ask questions that you need answered, not questions that get the interviewer's attention.
What you ask communicates a lot about you to the interviewer though. Yes, ask questions about things you want/need to know, but I also try to ask questions that show I've done my research, questions that further support me as a great potential employee. At magnet facilities I ask about the process to join magnet committees. I will ask about scheduling stuff like that, but I make sure my questions first and foremost paint me as someone who plans to contribute positively and constructively to the unit.
I like to ask the unit manager what her goals for the unit are and what she sees as the biggest challenges the unit faces. I ask if there are opportunities for staff to get involved in performance improvement or education projects.
Edit: for some reason my reply is not in the order I typed it, so I apologize for any incoherence that causes :/
Thank you all for the suggestions. Here are a list of questions I asked if anyone comes to this thread for more options.
No orientation questions b/c it was already discussed.
-what qualities do you want the ideal candidate to have?
-one preceptor or rotating preceptors?
-will there be preformance evaluations? How often?
-how would you describe the personality of the staff?
-how would you describe the relationships btwn staff, nurses, and doctors
-are there any planned changes expected for the unit?